BIM has been on the rise in recent years, with more and more businesses implementing it into their design and construction processes. But how does BIM affect health and safety?
What do you need to know about using BIM to improve the safety of your team? In this blog post, I discuss how BIM can help you mitigate health and safety risks.
1. How Does BIM Affect Health and Safety
BIM, or Building Information Modeling, has been hailed as a game-changer for the construction industry. By creating a digital model of a building, BIM allows architects and engineers to coordinate their efforts more efficiently and avoid potential conflicts.
But what does BIM mean for health and safety?
In theory, by providing a more accurate picture of the project, BIM should make construction sites safer and BIM should help to identify potential hazards before they become a reality.
For example, if two cranes are shown in a 3D BIM model you can more easily identify the potential of a physical clash before it happens and modify the site’s layout to avoid an accident.
Similarly, BIM can predict traffic patterns and congestion, allowing designers and contractors to plan the road networks accordingly.
BIM can also be used to create virtual 4D simulations of construction projects and help to identify potential hazards during the construction phase of a project.
These simulations can be used to train workers on how to execute tasks safely and identify potential hazards.
As a result, BIM can help identify risks early on, help avoid accidents during construction and create a safer working environment for everyone involved in the construction process.
In short, by improving coordination and communication, BIM has the potential to make construction sites safer for everyone involved.
2. Challenges to Implementing BIM for Health and Safety
In every industry there are “naysayers”, but that is especially true in the design and construction industry as it is one of the oldest in the world!
So while BIM has the massive potential to make construction sites safer, there are some hurdles to consider.
First, BIM is a relatively new technology, and there is still a learning curve associated with its use. As contractors use BIM for more aspects of their businesses, and as more dedicated and user-friendly BIM-based health and safety software is available, the learning curve will lessen.
There are also still some kinks to be ironed out. The older generations also have concerns that the increased use of digital models (and the metaverse!) will reduce on-site inspections. After all, if everything looks fine on the computer screen, why bother sending someone out to double-check? Could this reliance on technology lead to missed accidents and devastating consequences?
3. How BIM supports the Golden Thread
Better information management, through the use of BIM, is not just important it is starting to become mandatory.
The “Golden Thread” principle is a key part of the UK Government’s BIM strategy and states that information should be captured and maintained throughout the lifecycle of an asset.
This is essential for health and safety, as it means that any potential hazards can be identified at any stage of the project.
For example, if there is a problem with the design of a building, this can be spotted early on and fixed before a catastrophe occurs.
This is a huge improvement on traditional methods, where problems could go unnoticed until it was too late.
By using BIM correctly, we can avoid many of the dangers that exist on construction sites and collect critical information about what has been built.
This will lead to fewer accidents and injuries, and ultimately save lives.
4. Four Things to Plan for When Using BIM Software
- First, it is essential to understand that BIM is not a panacea. It will not guarantee that your project will be successful or 100% safe. When designing and building a structure, many factors must be considered, and BIM will not solve all your problems.
- Second, BIM can be expensive. If you are not careful, you can easily spend more money on BIM software than you need to.
- Third, BIM can be complex. If you do not have a good understanding of how some software works, you may find yourself struggling to use it effectively.
- Finally, BIM can be disruptive. If you are not prepared for the change that BIM will bring, you may find adjusting to the new way of working challenging.
5. How To Reduce the Impact of BIM
Here are four ways to mitigate the menaces of using BIM for the first time:
- Make sure you clearly understand the software before using it. As I said, BIM tools can be complex; it can be easy to make mistakes if you’re unfamiliar with them. Before using BIM on a project, take the time to learn how the process can be useful for you. Not every BIM tool is as simple as Plannerly! 😉
- Create backups of your data. Because BIM files are digital (and large!), they can be susceptible to corruption or loss. To mitigate this risk, always use a CDE (Common Data Environment) to create backups of your data. That way, if something goes wrong with your original file, you’ll have a backup to fall back on.
- Work with a trusted BIM consultant. When working on your first BIM project, I recommend that you partner with a BIM consulting company you trust. Make sure to do your research and choose a partner that has experience with BIM and that you feel confident in their ability to deliver on their promises.
- Be prepared for rework. The first time you use BIM you will find more issues than you usually do – this is both good and bad news! Be ready for managing long lists of clashes and have a plan in place for how to deal with them if they do occur.
6. The Impact of BIM
Here are just a few ways that BIM can make a difference:
- By providing a 3D detailed view of the work, BIM can help with communication between all project stakeholders
- By using 4D simulations BIM can identify potential hazards before they become a problem
- BIM can be used to create method statements, evacuation plans, and other emergency procedures that all help eliminate hazards to construction workers
- BIM can help managers track site progress, monitor equipment/materials movement, worker whereabouts, and evaluate many other job site activities
- By visualizing data, BIM can help to identify trends and pinpoint areas where improvements need to be made
- BIM can be used to create training materials and simulations, reducing the need for employees to be exposed to real-world hazards
- and many more! 🎉
Perhaps one of the most important is, when used correctly, BIM can help to reduce accidents, injuries, and even fatalities!
I believe that Building Information Modeling is essential for any organization committed to improving workplace health and safety.
It is obvious that the use of BIM is increasing, and it is estimated that by 2025, 80% of construction projects will use BIM (McKinsey).
But, what have we learned about how BIM improves health and safety in the construction industry?
Well, BIM allows for better communication among team members. This can lead to fewer mistakes in design and on site.
BIM can also help identify many of the potential hazards on site way before they become a problem.
We can also use the models to keep a log of what has happened along the Golden Thread of the project. This will help us make sure that we know who made which design decisions and have a record of exactly what has been built.
We can also look to learn from our mistakes and avoid them in the future 🎉
This is going to save lives!
With the increase in awareness of how BIM can improve health and safety, it is important to start using tools like Plannerly to help manage your BIM projects.
Not only will this keep you compliant with industry standards (like ISO 19650), but it will also help you to plan earlier to avoid potential accidents and save lives.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started with Plannerly today for free! 😃
Other Interesting Reads
Two Bonus Resources 😃
Here are two additional items that I think you’ll find valuable – 1) a video 🎥 that covers the complete BIM management workflow and 2) some typical questions I get asked about these topics, as well as my best-attempted answers.
I hope they’re useful! 🙏
1) The Complete BIM Management Workflow
First, here’s a video showing The Complete BIM Management Workflow:
2) Questions I Often Get Asked
I have also tried to summarize some answers to the most common questions that I get asked about this subject – I hope you can use them too:
How can BIM be used to improve safety on construction projects?
BIM can be used to improve safety on construction projects by creating a virtual model of the project that can be used to identify potential hazards and correct them before construction begins. This not only helps to prevent accidents and injuries but also helps to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
What are some of the benefits of using BIM to improve safety on construction projects?
Some of the benefits of using BIM to improve safety on projects include:
– The ability to model collisions between objects in a virtual environment can help identify potential hazards and prevent them from happening in the real world
– The ability to create “real world” simulations, which can help construction workers better understand how a structure is supposed to be built and identify potential hazards before they occur
– The ability to track and manage safety data more effectively can help construction companies identify trends and improve safety on future projects
– The ability to communicate safety information more effectively to all members of a construction team
– The ability to capture the Golden Thread of safety data from the design phase through to the completion of a project
What is the Golden Thread in relation to BIM?
The Golden Thread refers to the management of information throughout the entire lifecycle of a project, from design through construction to facility management and operation.
The Golden Thread provides a single source of truth for all project data, which can be accessed and updated by everyone involved in the project. This means that everyone is working with the same data set, which reduces errors and misunderstandings.
At the end of a project, the Golden Thread also provides a complete record of the project, which can be used for future reference and to improve upon future projects.
BIM is great for this because it allows for a central repository of information that can be accessed by everyone on the project. BIM also makes it easy to track changes and update the design and project data as needed.
The Golden Thread is critical because it ensures that everyone involved in the project has access to the same information at any stage. This reduces errors along the way and also creates a valuable record that can be used to reduce the likelihood of problems throughout the operational life of the building.
I blog for the Five BIM Bloggers series.
Every week we share different perspectives on important BIM topics!